Backpacker Finds Purpose in Life After 600-Day Journey Across Vietnam

After two years working multiple jobs at a time, Thuy Trang realized she needed to slow down and enjoy life and adventure on the open road.

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In March 2018, a 23-year-old woman made the bold decision to leave her desk job and embark on a transformative backpacking adventure. She began her journey by exploring the scenic destinations of Vietnam, including Ninh Binh and Ho Chi Minh City, before venturing further to experience the cultural richness of neighboring countries like Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, China, and other captivating Asian destinations.

Inside Quang Binh Cave. Photo: NVCC
Inside Quang Binh Cave. Photo: NVCC

Trang hails from a modest background. During her time as a university student, she tirelessly dedicated herself to accumulating meager savings. At one point, she managed to juggle multiple jobs simultaneously, including collaborating with online newspapers and crafting marketing content. The constant strain took a toll on her well-being, depriving her of sufficient rest and causing her eyes to become dry from excessive screen time. Overwhelmed with exhaustion, she would often find herself in tears after returning home from work.

After engaging in conversations and collaborations with fellow travel bloggers, Trang experienced a profound realization that her youthful vitality and well-being were gradually diminishing. The monotonous nature of her office jobs had eroded her genuine, joyous spirit. Motivated by this epiphany, Trang resolved to relinquish her current employment and embark on a transformative sojourn to rediscover her authentic self and unravel the profound significance of life that she had gleaned from her past travels.

Thuy Trang in her Myanmar trip in January, 2019. Photo: NVCC
Thuy Trang in her Myanmar trip in January, 2019. Photo: NVCC

Exploring the World: 600 Days of Backpacking

Over the course of the last two years, Trang has had the opportunity to visit an impressive number of provinces and countries in Southeast Asia. She has explored 47 provinces and traveled to 9 different countries, including Thailand (12 times), China (6 times), and Danang (11 times). Trang’s repeated visits to these locations can be attributed to her profound admiration for their unique cultures and delectable cuisines.

Trang often undertook solo travel during her trips, although occasionally she would be accompanied by close friends or family. However, not everyone was willing to invest their time and finances in joining her. Typically, she would spend a few weeks abroad before returning to Vietnam.

Photo: NVCC
Photo: NVCC

Trang carefully allocated her savings accumulated over a span of two years to support her travel endeavors. Additionally, she utilized online work opportunities which enabled her to maintain a steady income while on the go. Prior to embarking on her extensive journeys, she diligently set aside a portion of her earnings as a precautionary measure against potential unforeseen circumstances such as unemployment or emergencies.

“A significant number of individuals assumed that I come from a privileged background and possess ample financial resources to afford my frequent travels. However, the truth is that my only strategy is to save money diligently and prioritize taking breaks from work and stress,” she disclosed.

Plum flower season at Moc Chau. Photo: NVCC
Plum flower season at Moc Chau. Photo: NVCC

Trang reminisces about her most memorable experience during the course of 600 days, which involves a trip she took with her family to Bangkok in 2019. During their visit, amidst the chaos of a crowded train station, Trang’s father went missing. This caused great distress for Trang as she frantically searched for him over the course of several hours. Despite the assistance offered by the locals and security personnel, they were unsuccessful in locating her father. Ultimately, a stranger reached out to Trang through Facebook, informing her that her father was in the company of a group of Vietnamese individuals and patiently waiting for her.

“When I saw him wearing his favorite colorful shirt, I was overwhelmed with a sense of relief and happiness,” Trang expressed emotionally.

During her travels in various countries, Trang found that Thailand holds the most cherished memories for her and has been the site of her most thrilling experiences. Despite her limited proficiency in English, Trang’s communication skills did not hinder her from forging new friendships and engaging with strangers. It was in the enchanting land of Golden Temples that Trang witnessed the breathtaking sight of 4,000 lanterns ascending into the sky during the Yi Peng festival in Chiang Mai. Additionally, she had the opportunity to engage with local residents in Udon Thani, who shared captivating tales about Uncle Ho.

Quynh Trang with little children at Sapa. Photo: NVCC
Quynh Trang with little children at Sapa. Photo: NVCC

During her 600-day journey, Trang has had the privilege of meeting and forming beautiful friendships with people from all corners of the globe. She openly admitted to initially harboring reservations about conversing with strangers, but her transformative journey has enabled her to break down those barriers and embrace a more open and accepting approach towards others.

The adventures of Trang, a seasoned traveler, continue to unfold. As she explores different corners of the continent, her confidence grows, and she fills her life with the exhilaration and splendor of Asian travel.

Check-in at Petronas Twin-tower, Malaysia. Photo: NVCC
Check-in at Petronas Twin-tower, Malaysia. Photo: NVCC